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Article 19, a 25-year-old nonprofit group devoted to journalism and human rights, this month launched an effort to decriminalize defamation in Brazil, according to a post by the Knight Center for Journalism in America.
Article 19 released a report analyzing decisions by Brazil's highest courts, the Supreme Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Justice, compared to international courts, on the matter of defamation prison sentences. Brazil law regarding libel may impose jail terms, but also enables some statements of opinion to be found defamatory and is highly protective of public officials, in sharp contrast to how courts treat the tort in the U.S.
According to the Knight post, numerous Latin American countries impose criminal sanctions against journalists for defamation, including the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia. Article 19 takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."